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Thousands of Muslim Militants in Lebanon Protest U.N. Action

July 22, 1987|From Times Wire Services

BAALBEK, Lebanon — Thousands of Muslim fundamentalists on Tuesday trampled dummies of President Reagan and French President Francois Mitterrand to protest a U.N. resolution urging an end to the Persian Gulf War and France's rupture of diplomatic relations with Iran.

"Terrorism is the only solution," shouted demonstrators as they burned American, French and Israeli flags in the square of Baalbek, a Syrian-controlled city 52 miles northeast of Beirut. Iranian Revolutionary Guards and fighters from the pro-Iranian Hezbollah, or Party of God, brandishing Kalashnikov rifles, were among the estimated 7,000 demonstrators.

"Let all the world listen . . . the Khomeinis won't kneel down," the demonstrators chanted, referring to Iran's leader, the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

"Islam is in danger. The arrogant imperialist states are trying to contain Islam and Muslims," Sheik Sobhi Tofeili, the Hezbollah leader in the Bekaa Valley, told the crowd. In a rare unanimous vote Monday, the 15-member U.N. Security Council adopted a resolution demanding an end to the nearly seven-year-old Iran-Iraq war. Iran on Tuesday branded the resolution as unjust. Iraq said its Parliament will study the U.N. move, although Western analysts said they expect Iraq to accept the resolution.

"Accepting the U.N. resolution is a blow on the head of Islam," Tofeili said. "We don't accept any peace that will break our backs. . . . We will turn the gulf waters into graveyards for the bodies of Americans."

In a direct response to France's decision last week to sever diplomatic ties with Tehran, the demonstrators shouted: "(French Premier Jacques) Chirac, tell Mitterrand that no one can humiliate us.

"Chirac tell Mitterrand we have terrorists everywhere," chanted the crowd, which included seasoned fighters, Shia Muslim clergymen, women and children.

France and Iran broke diplomatic relations in a controversy over French demands to interview an Iranian holed up in his country's embassy in Paris. He is suspected of having connections with a wave of terrorist bombings in Paris last year. Iran rejects France's insistance that the man is not protected by diplomatic immunity.

Police have surrounded the French and Iranian embassies in Tehran and Paris in a standoff with no break in sight.

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